There are many alternatives to navigate the Galician coast, approaching it in a different way: short or long journeys on board a catamaran, sailboat, motorboat, schooner, fishing boat… We only have to take into account the weather conditions, the visiting season and the minimum age required to sail the seas (in some cases children under twelve are not admitted).
First of all, there are places that can only be accessed by boat. This is the case of the Atlantic Islands (Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada). Being a national park and being protected, luckily, we have to obtain an authorization before setting sail. In both the Cíes and Ons, camping is also allowed, with prior authorization too, of course. The two archipelagos have regular maritime service in high season, something that does not happen in Sálvora and Cortegada. In any case, they can all be visited on excursions organized by different shipping companies, with the relevant permits, by private boat and even anchor it. The option of not disembarking is also offered, as in many guided routes along the Vigo estuary, usually by sailboat or motorboat.
In the Rías Baixas there is an appetizing Mussel Route, with routes through the Arousa, Pontevedra and Vigo estuaries, and departures from Ribeira, O Grove, Sanxenxo or Redondela. Some services offer seafood and albariño wine tasting on board, and even a stop at the bateas (rafts) themselves, to learn more about the world of mussel farming.
If we are looking for more immersive experiences, we can always join a traditional fishing boat, dedicated to tourism, of course, they are not going to put us to work… After doing this route, we arrive on land knowing everything about the fishing gear that is used in Galicia. They may even let us try our luck and grab a rod. There are more and more offers of this type of excursion, even night outings to fish sardine and cuttlefish, for example.
In the Rías Baixas there are also excursions to watch cetaceans, such as dolphins, and even whales, if you are very lucky. There are departures from O Grove, Cambados or Portonovo.
We always think of the Way of Saint James on foot, with the cane, the backpack, the blisters on our feet… And what if we do it by sea and river? The Jacobean route proposes a route of approximately one hour, following the trace of the arrival in Galicia of the remains of the apostle, which is known as “traslatio”. The entire route would be from Jaffa, in what is now Israel, from where in 1944 the boat with the body of Santiago departed, but that is already many miles… Here, the route starts from various points of the Arousa estuary and It goes up the river Ulla to Padrón, so that it combines a maritime and river route. From the boat, we see up close the Torres del Oeste de Catoira, and some of the 17 cruises of the only river way of the cross in the world.
For a longer pilgrimage, entirely by sea, we have the Iacobus maris route. Here, the boats are luxurious, as they are large sailboats, mostly international school ships. They leave Genoa, stop at various ports, and arrive in Vigo in mid-July. Quite a sight to see them together.
Another way to make the journey by sea is to sign up for a Jacobean nautical journey, on your own or hired sailboat, with or without a skipper. The North Crossing leaves from Ribadeo and the South from Baiona or Vigo. Both end in Boiro or Portosín. Upon reaching land, what tradition dictates is to complete the path on foot.
Interesting maritime outings are also organized in the Rías Altas. One of them takes us on a cruise through the Ferrol estuary, to learn about its naval history from the sea itself, having another perspective of the military fortresses, the shipyards and even Mugardos.
Sailing excursions depart from Cariño to Cape Ortegal which, in the long version, end in Estaca de Bares. On the other side of the cape we have the route through the cliffs of Vixía Herbeira by motorboat, passing through San Andrés de Teixido and Teixedelo, the black sand beach. A different view of the Serra da Capelada, have we never imagined ourselves down there, in a little boat on the wide sea?…
In the Ártabro Gulf we can also take a promenade along the Ares estuary, with visits to the islands of As Mirandas, O Mourón, or the port of Redes.
In the Cantábrico, in summer there are many motorboat excursions along the Mariña coast of Lugo, such as As Catedrais, along the coast of Foz and the Fazouro castros, or through Rinlo. Some are aimed at seabird watching.
And we end with a farewell at sea, in the middle of the twilight: a walk at sunset to watch the sunset from the ocean, for example in Fisterra, where the world ends. What more could you want…